Easy Does It
Summer is all about “living easy.” Stressful, decadent meals in the formal dining room are swapped for casual backyard BBQs. Stoking the indoor fire is replaced by splashing in the outdoor pool. And trying to get it all in before nightfall becomes easier as the days get longer and the weather warms up. When it comes to hosting at your home, it should be as easy as the vibe the season emits. That’s why we tapped entertaining expert and home accessories designer Joanna Buchanan for her top tips for stress-free summer hosting.
Use Decor from Indoors
“Just because you are outside doesn't mean it needs to be paper plates!” says Buchanan. Make the outdoors fancier: Bring out some taper candles, display a bouquet of fresh flowers in a vase, and drape blankets over chairs.
Utilize Natural Surroundings
Take a look around and you’ll be amazed at the natural world begging to be highlighted as beautiful decor. Shrubs and flowers can be snipped and popped into vases to add gorgeous embellishment to the table.
Set Up a Self-Serve Bar
A self-serve bar enables guests to feel right at home. “When guests arrive, encourage them to help themselves,” says Buchanan. “Unless you have help, you will be running around all day serving drinks...and that's no fun!”
Don’t Serve Everything at Once
“Have 'waves' of food coming out as opposed to serving everything at once,” says Buchanan. “I always have one wave for when everyone arrives (appetizers), then the 'meal' aka BBQ. Later, I do a serving of cold sandwiches and fried chicken perhaps. Finally, the big desserts!”
Related: The Best Bar Carts for Entertaining
Make a Signature Drink
Use High-Quality Dinnerware
Keep Kids Safe
“When outdoor entertaining, there's no need not to include children,” Buchanan says. “We have a pool, so we always get a lifeguard when we know small children will be around.” Buchanan suggests working with a lifeguard from the local YMCA. “The kids there are usually happy for a few extra hours of work, and they usually do a good job of entertaining some of the small children as well—even beyond the pool!”
Related: The Best Walkie-Talkies for Kids
Don’t Forget the Younger Kids
For a family-friendly event, be sure to offer activities that get adults and younger kids joining together in the fun. “My husband is a big believer in the game of egg toss,” says Buchanan.
Have Games for Adults
Anticipate Extra Guests
As a host, you never want to run out of the goods! Always anticipate extra guests. Ways to prepare include having extra place settings, extra towels, enough non-alcoholic beverages, and of course, plenty of food!
Use Proper Lighting
Keep the Bugs Away
Prepare the Lawn
“If you have grass outside, make sure to schedule the landscaper the day before the party,” says Buchanan, to ensure the lawn is at its most presentable. “Don't forget to turn off the sprinklers the night before,” she adds. “You don't want wet grass!”
Related: 7 Lawn Care Myths Debunked
Plan Out Seating
Be sure there are enough places for guests to relax. “Have multiple seating areas if possible, so that people can find a spot to catch up with friends or just take a quiet minute on their own,” Buchanan suggests.
Don’t Plan for Perfection
While having yummy food, delicious drinks, fun games and beautiful decor will make for a great party, be mindful that there may be glitches. “Don't expect or plan for perfection. A party will always bring unexpected surprises,” says Buchanan. “Roll with them!”
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